Anne Arundel approves plans to revitalize Point Pleasant Elementary

School is currently housed in two buildings

March 17, 2011|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Sometimes teachers and administrators walk between the two buildings at Point Pleasant Elementary School. On some days, however, when time might not always allow for a walk, they drive.

"It's a football field between us," said Karen Scheel, assistant principal at the Glen Burnie school, whose two buildings separate intermediate and primary classes, making for two different bus stop areas and a staff that must go back and forth throughout the day.

That's why school officials are encouraged that the Anne Arundel County Board of Education approved a $3 million site work contract to revitalize the school's buildings and place everyone under one roof.

The board unanimously voted to allow M.P. Zink Construction to do site work at Point Pleasant as part of a $36 million project that would give the school a single building for its 500 students by August 2013. Construction is to begin next month.

The Point Pleasant project was among several that the board approved as a block at Wednesday night's meeting that would ultimately make school settings more feasible for students and faculty. Among the others was a decision to award a $678,000 contract to general contractor Bob Porter Co. Inc. to enclose open classroom space at Severn Elementary School.

Point Pleasant has separate main offices, separate custodial staff and separate cafeterias. One building houses students in pre-kindergarten through second grade; the other third through fifth grade. The school was first occupied in 1958, and Scheel said the Point Pleasant community has been eagerly anticipating the pending change for a long time.

"It would be a wonderful thing, and we're quite excited," Scheel said. "For a parent, it has meant two different bus stops. For everything to be under one roof would mean shared staff, shared assets and interaction between the primary and intermediate students."

Board of Education Vice President Teresa Milio Birge was excited about the project moving forward.

"They've been operating as two buildings, which is essentially like operating two schools," Birge said. "I am just very happy that we're moving forward and getting this project started so they're that much closer to bringing the community together under one roof."

The Severn Elementary project is part of a continuing effort to enclose open-space classrooms at 34 schools, county officials said. In addition to adding walls, the enclosure includes modifying ceilings, lighting systems and public address systems.

"It's not as easy as everybody thinks; people believe that you can just put up walls," board member Deborah Ritchie said shortly after the vote was cast. She added that closing the open spaces alleviates problems that many who do not work in such areas might take for granted, such as teachers straining their voices from talking at a raised pitch all day.

"They have to project a little bit more to be heard, and people don't think about that," Ritchie said. "Think about talking for six hours all day and being able to get that information out there. That is really tiring on the vocal cords."

Ritchie added, "What happens if you want to be able to have a movie as a special reward to the kids because they did very well on their MSAs? Being able to have enclosed spaces makes that possible."

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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